El Morro: San Juan’s Landmark Fort
Puerto Rico’s bustling and colorful capital of San Juan is noted as the cosmopolitan heart of the island, filled with art and culture. It’s easy to forget while dancing to live salsa and browsing the art galleries that line the cobblestone streets that San Juan is also loaded with history. And there’s no better place to get a sense of that history than exploring the 16th century fort, Castillo San Felipe del Morro.
I headed up to El Morro on a windy spring day to grab a glimpse of the historic landmark up close. The view of the fort overlooking the sea is spectacular and it gets grander the closer you get. You can take a tram up the hill to the entrance or you can take the scenic route and walk.
READ MORE: A Day-Trip to San Juan: Puerto Rico’s Old Town
Tip: the fort’s hilltop position makes it perennially windy so secure hats (which you’ll need to block the intense sun rays) and avoid wearing skirts or dresses. I learned this the hard way and spent half the climb clutching my dress so I didn’t end up in a Marilyn Monroe pose with my dress flying up into my face.
El Morro overlooks San Juan Bay, a key position that helped protect the island from invasions. The six-level fort is one of the largest erected by Spain in the Caribbean and its construction spanned 250 years, from the time it was built as a simple tower in 1539, until all of the levels were added on in 1787.
El Morro has blocked invasions from the Dutch, the British, Sir Francis Drake and the U.S. during the Spanish American War. The centuries of battle seem to pour out of the walls and you can look at several cannons left over from the battles.
You can start your self-guided tour with a short video about the history of El Morro that’s shown in the main plaza. The video runs in both Spanish and English a few times an hour. I found the video helpful because it gives a general understanding of all the fort’s history. There’s also a Park Ranger who offers an orientation talk every 30 minutes in English and Spanish.
Source: Travel Pulse